Co Down brotherly love stretched to limit as United beat Southampton

Brothers Jonathan (left) and Alistair Bushe minutes before kick off at the League Cup final
Brothers Jonathan (left) and Alistair Bushe minutes before kick off at the League Cup final

Although it is not regarded as one of sports’ greatest rivalries, any clash between Southampton and Manchester United is sure to raise tensions between two Co Down brothers.

It was always going to end in tears for one sibling, after Alistair Bushe and his younger brother Jonathan went to Wembley to cheer on the opposing teams in the League Cup final.

News Letter editor Alistair, 39, a childhood Southampton fan, left Wembley ruing what might have been after watching his side come from two goals down to draw level, before a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal won it for United 3-2. Saints had a goal ruled out for offside which looked to be the incorrect decision.

Alistair said: “It was an incredibly difficult way to lose. On the balance of play I don’t think even United fans would argue the better team lost.

“The officials have cost us dearly with the disallowed goal, it was clearly onside and it is time for TV replays like there is in cricket and rugby.”

Lifelong United fan Jonathan, 38, was over the moon.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the trophy after the EFL Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 26, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the trophy after the EFL Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 26, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

He said: “Zlatan has been an unbelievable signing when you think he was a free transfer. He was the difference.

“It was a great occasion though I feel a bit sorry for my brother.”

Read Jose Mourinho’s reaction here

Alistair started supporting Southampton in 1989 when his family located to Wiltshire, just over an hour’s drive from Southampton.

He said: “Myself, dad and Jonathan went to The Dell for the first time in September 1989, when I was 12, for a game against Wimbledon.

“Matt Le Tissier scored twice, Alan Shearer started and that was me a Saints fan from that day. Jonathan wasn’t quite so taken and stayed a Man U fan, which he has been from a very young age.”

The pair have been to two previous Southampton v United games together before, both back at The Dell in the 1990s.

Alistair, who was at the San Siro this season to witness Southampton take on Inter Milan, said: “The rivalry between myself and Jonathan was very tense as teenagers, it’s funny thinking about it now but I remember objects being thrown across the living room during one particularly close match.

“Now it’s much more relaxed, Jonathan has a soft spot for Saints I think!”

While the boys have maintained a footballing rivalry into adulthood, one sport which unites them is cricket with both brothers pledging allegiance to Waringstown, where their father Eddie also starred.